AMC executive says response to ad-free Premiere service ‘terrific,’ expects others to follow

AMC's Charlie Collier, center, speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference.

ASPEN, Colo.—Charlie Collier, president of AMC and Sundance TV, said that the company’s new AMC Premiere ad-free service, which costs $4.99 per month on Comcast’s Xfinity offering, has been a hit with customers—and he predicted that other media companies likely will follow suit and offer similar products.

“The response [to AMC Premiere] has been terrific,” Collier said here during a session at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference. “I think others will follow.”

However, Collier didn’t provide any metrics to back up his assessment of AMC Premiere, although that’s relatively common among media and technology companies launching new services.

AMC “soft launched” AMC Premiere last month exclusively through Comcast. It features current episodes of shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Into the Badlands” airing at the same time as the live, ad-supported broadcast. The companies promised more content and features would be added over the course of the summer. Those extras will include short-form content, “curated” movies, uncut and bonus scenes and episodes, and exclusive interviews with casts and show runners.

The move offers AMC an opportunity to reduce cord cutting and resulting erosion of revenue; indeed, the company’s ad sales declined 6% in the first quarter.

Interestingly, Collier offered a range of additional insights into AMC’s business during his appearance. He said that, overall, AMC is working to change its approach to the market to address viewers rather than cable providers and other distributors. “We were a one-to-many medium,” he said. “We need to be a one-to-one medium.”

Added Collier: “At the center is the fan.” He explained that AMC is working to develop stories and characters that resonate with viewers, and is working to reinforce that connection with mobile games, VR content and other efforts.

In the first quarter, AMC brought in a higher profit during the first quarter as its revenues rose slightly.

Further, the company’s net revenues increased 1.9% to $720 million thanks to 2.8% growth at National Networks. However, operating income fell 10.5% to $232 million, due to a 6.4% decrease at National Networks and a widened loss at International and Other.